The Problem with Recruiting

The Problem with Recruiting  (from


My friend Alan Derhak (R.I.P.) used to say that this would be a great business if it weren’t for the clients and the candidates.

It always made me smile, and still does.

Those of us who make our living as executive recruiters, or head-hunters or whatever term you like, know too well the frustrations of this business.

What is the problem with recruiting? In my opinion it is the disconnect between client expectations and what recruiters can actually deliver.

I think many clients believe that search firms are like personnel agencies, you know, the kind where people register every morning and wait to see what jobs come in during the day. I can’t count how many times I have heard “do you currently have someone for this job?” as if the person were actually waiting in the lobby.

Lets face it nowadays clients want fast; but the only way to do it fast is to do it wrong. By the time most clients decide to use a search firm most have exhausted other recruitment methods and are under the gun to hire someone…fast.

This is completely contrary to what good executive search should be. A systematic and methodical search of the marketplace to recruit and qualify candidates against a well prepared job description/profile, and then and only then, to produce and present a short list to the client. The heart and soul of executive search is search. The recruiter actually goes out and looks for and finds suitable candidates. A recruiter’s database is an aid to that process, not the answer.

I would love to say this is the all the clients fault, but that would be too easy. We recruiters have been too eager to land searches by promising what we know is not doable.

And the cycle continues. Client expectations cannot be met and the whole industries reputation suffers; and lets face it, ours is an industry that doesn’t have the best reputation to start with.

We need to be honest with clients about the time required to do a proper search and the roadblocks that may exist for a particular search. Only then will we be considered true partners to our clients.

My two cents.

Frank Bruni